“This sure will be the best Christmas ever,” Tina Parks of Schoharie said Friday.
She and her family are moving into their new house on Christmas Eve, thanks to community support they got from Schoharie Area Long Term, a disaster recovery regional coalition, and others. Their home was one of many destroyed or damaged in the region in flooding that hit the region from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.
The family, including daughter Sidney and husband Scott Parks, stayed first with relatives, and then in a rental property. But about three months ago, Parks said she decided it was time to return to the flood-damaged Bridge Street property that had been in her husband’s family for more than 50 years. He inherited it in 2000.
With funding and volunteers from SALT, that was formed shortly after the flooding to help with the rebuilding, the couple were able to find a company to demolish the building and replace it with a two story modular home. About two weeks ago, people from Apple Barrel Country Store & Cafe in Schoharie brought in a tree donated by Schoharie Valley Farms and decorated the family’s living room for Christmas.
“Our tree is beautiful” and part of that is that others cared enough to help, Parks said. “I appreciate what everybody has done for us.”
She encouraged others to donate to SALT so their work can go on.
Apparel Barrel managing director Jessica Kirby said her family business was on high enough ground to avoid the flood waters. Her father made “loads of food” and took it into the village in the days after the flooding to help those cleaning up. She has helped with projects that have raised $75,000 to help with repairs.
“We are just so lucky to live in this community. We wanted to do anything possible to recover,” she said.
In doing a series of charity events this year, they contacted SALT about doing something for Christmas. They suggested the Parks. Kirby and a store employee went to the house Dec. 17 after work. They decorated the living room and left a few presents.
With the demands of retail, a person can sometimes lose the Christmas spirit, Kirby said, but “this brought it back.”
When she see’s the look on someone’s face that has been helped, “there’s an instant reward especially at this time of year.”
The recovery is still ongoing, she said.
“We will continue to fundraise and do what we can.”
SALT marketing director Jerrine Corallo said, “We serve as a coalition to bring people together and coordinate construction.”
More than 2,000 homes were impacted by the flooding, according to FEMA. SALT and other agencies have helped more than 800 in the area to recover. “I don’t think there is better feeling in helping families return, especially in time for Christmas.”
For more information on Schoharie Area Long Term call 518 702-5017 or go to http://www.saltrecovery.org/.